Q&A With Emily Skopov, Candidate for PA State House District 28

Your Name: Emily Skopov

Your Pronouns: She/her

Your District: 28 

How do you describe your identity? I identify as a woman, a mother, and member of the Jewish community.

Tell us about the first LGBTQ person you met and what impact they had on your life? The first openly gay person I met was named Ronnie. He was a makeup artist who worked at a store that my dad owned where I also worked during summers and weekends. I was 11 and Ronnie was awesome. Before Ronnie, I had no preconception of what an LGBTQ+ person was. He was nice, kind, compassionate and funny. I feel fortunate to have had close personal and professional relationships with members of the queer community since then. I am thankful for the activism and work done by this community to advance equality and embrace diversity of all types.

Please tell us about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district and the region. We are a district that is undergoing a transformation and becoming increasingly diverse. Part of this diversity includes many LGBTQ+ members within our communities.

Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for the General Assembly? How will you respond to those priorities? I want all my constituents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to feel heard and represented. I believe in equal rights and in Harrisburg I will work to protect and expand these rights.

How does intersectionality inform your work? It is my belief that no identity exists in a vacuum. I am a woman, but I am also a Jewish woman and a mother. These identities are inextricably linked. Like most individuals, I have experienced both marginalization and privilege due to my identity. I will use both experiences to promote equity and diversity and to be a champion for the most vulnerable populations in Pennsylvania.

The threats of ‘religious liberty’ laws and exemptions target both LGBTQ rights and women’s rights. How does the General Assembly navigate this equivalency of personal religious freedom with the systemic oppression and control of underserved people?  Freedom of religion cannot come at the expense of the rights of others, especially at the expense of the rights of vulnerable and underserved communities. In the State House, I will work to strengthen anti-discrimination laws to protect the rights of racial and ethnic minorities, close the gender gap, and fight to ensure that our LGBTQ+ friends and family receive equal treatment under the law when it comes to employment, housing, and all aspects of life. In my view, protecting these rights in no way infringes upon religious freedom.

The Grand Jury Report on child sex abuse by Catholic priests released by State Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office includes four specific changes to Pennsylvania state law to address sexual abuse of children. These include 1) eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for sexually abusing children; 2) creating a “civil window” so older victims may now sue for damages; 3) clarifying penalties for a continuing failure to report child abuse; and 4) specifying that Civil Confidentiality Agreements do not cover communications with law enforcement. Will you pledge to support all of these four changes and work to pass the necessary legislation? Please explain your response. I support all these changes and all further measures to protect children from this heinous abuse and allow victims to seek justice. I have worked with sponsors of this legislation and will continue to do so if elected.

Your platform includes “streamlining government services to reduce costs to the taxpayer.” Please give a specific example of where you see that sort of waste and how you would propose to streamline the service as well as what the true savings would be for the taxpayers. I will not work remove any existing services within our government. However, I will work to streamline and eliminate processes that make our government systems unfriendly and inaccessible to our community. While this might seem like a silly example, let’s talk about non-pasteurized milk. You can’t sell it in our district without paying for prohibitively expensive certifications and running tests that are known to be inaccurate.  This process is poorly done and hurts farmers and consumers. We need procedures and policies that are clear, concise, and do not prevent regular folks from engaging in the process.

Tell me about your other endorsements and supporters We are proud to have a robust and diverse group of supporters. Our endorsers include the following:

AFT Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Democratic Committee, Allegheny County Labor Council, Emily’s List, Equality Pennsylvania, Flippable, Humane PA, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC, Sierra Club, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State, WTF Pittsburgh, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, #VoteProChoice, Represent, Teamsters Local 249, Teamsters Joint Council 40, SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, United Mineworkers of America’s Pennsylvania/New York COMPAC State Council, CeasefirePA, Humane PA, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC, Sierra Club, Emily’s List, Teamsters Local 249 and Joint Council 40,

SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, Allegheny County Democratic Committee, Allegheny County Labor Council.

Why did you agree to complete the Q&A for this blog? I believe transparency. When people ask me questions, I will answer to the very best of my ability. It’s important to me that I represent the voices of my constituents across multiple platforms. I believe that our leaders should be accessible, our calendars public, and our expenses reported.

Where can readers find your campaign on social media?

https://www.electemily4pa.com/

https://twitter.com/eskopov16

https://www.facebook.com/ElectEmily4PA

Thank you, Emily.